Who Is Scott Brown? The US' New Zealand Ambassador Apologized For His Remarks To Women In Samoa
Former Massachusetts senator and current U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown was investigated for remarks to women that he made while visiting the island nation of Samoa in July, according to the New York Times on Wednesday. He reportedly called women there "beautiful" and told one woman she could "make hundreds of dollars" working as a waitress in the United States. Brown acknowledged the investigation but said in a video statement that his comments were misconstrued.
"Fine...I did say it. Gail [his wife] and I did say it absolutely," Brown said after clarifying what he meant by "beautiful":
When we walked into the Peace Corp event we walked in and there was a receiving line, and prior to walking, they were all like dirty and grungy ... We walked in and everyone was dressed to the nines. They all looked great, Gail looked great, you know, I was dressed up and Gail and I both walked in and said "you guys are beautiful, you look really handsome sir, you guys are great." And apparently somebody took offense to that.
In New Zealand, the American Embassy has denied media requests, and Bustle has contact the U.S. State Department for comment. According to local news reports, the investigation by the Office of the Inspector General lasted about three weeks, and that as a result Brown had been grounded from other Pacific Island trips following the incident.
Besides the word "beautiful," also at issue was the comment that the women would make good waitresses, Brown tried to spin the comment to be positive, saying that they could succeed in the "service industry" — throwing in other jobs like bartending — because they were "doing a great job." Brown explained that he "absolutely told people they could make great waitresses."
"I would say that to my kids too, in between jobs, hustling one, two, three jobs," he said. "Just get some money in your pocket and get out of there."
At the end of the video, Brown explained that the outcome of the investigation was that he should be more culturally sensitive.
"I was told by my people, ‘Look, you’re not Scott Brown from Rye, New Hampshire, anymore; you’re an ambassador,’” he said in the video. “We are in a different culture, even though we all speak English. ... Sometimes when we say one thing, it means the complete different — whether it’s here in New Zealand or in Samoa or another country."
"I'm always welcoming that kind of advice," he added. "Will I say it again? Probably not." Gail Huff, his wife, went on to say that both she and her husband would be careful about what they say and how it's perceived.
Brown has been in New Zealand since June. He was an early supporter of now President Donald Trump during the days of the campaign. Brown made a national name for himself by winning a special election for the Massachusetts senate seat now occupied by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (she beat him in 2012). The election is seen as marking the emergence of the Tea Party on the national scene. His election also thwarted the Democrats plan for a more progressive health care bill, and the current version of Obamacare is thanks in large part to his win.
This is not the first time that the treatment of women has come up since Brown has been in New Zealand. A Kiwi radio host grilled Brown on Trump's comments about and treatment of women in July, shortly after arriving in the country. The ambassador defended his boss and said that American women are more worried about "pocketbook issues" than what the president has said about women.